Baseball & Radio…

It’s as if baseball were made for the radio…

Back in ’84 the Detroit Tigers won 35 of their first 40 games and cruised to a World Series win. They were dominating with players like Trammel, Whitaker, Morris, Lopez, and Gibson. That spring, summer and fall, my dad, brother, and I listened to Ernie Harwell call the games on dad’s red Channel Master transistor radio (WJR, 760AM). We lived in Carmel, IN (just north of Indianapolis) so, depending on the weather, we’d miss portions of the game when the station faded out. No such trouble anymore… I get my fix with the MLB At Bat app. The Tigers is still the team though the broadcasters, players, stadium, and technology have changed. I miss Ernie starting the season off with Scripture, but the new guys are good.

The pace of baseball, the strike-out and homer calls, the rising tension of a no-hitter, the battle between pitcher and hitter are best enjoyed on radio. I’m looking forward to another season…

NewSpring at the Movies (our "local" #giftedcommunicator)…

Here’s the next “sermon” series at our “local” mega(lomaniacal) church (viewer discretion is advised):

https://newspring.cc/sermons/at-the-movies

Meanwhile, up the road a piece at Trinity Presbyterian Church, we’ll be opening our Bibles—God’s Word—to Luke 7. #novideos #noproductionvalue #uncool #1Cor2:1-5 #churchforthosewholovechurch #willheeverfinishluke

Raising our children to be those of whom the world was not worthy (part 3)…

37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground (Heb. 11:37-38).

Of verse 38, the Puritan pastor John Owen writes:

Of this world it is said, that it was “not worthy” of those sufferers. It was not so in the ages and seasons wherein they lived; nor is so of them who suffer in any other age whatever. The world thinks them not worthy of it, or to live in it, to enjoy any name or place among the men of it. Here is a testimony given to the contrary, — that the world is not worthy of them. Nor can any thing be spoken to the greater provocation of it. To tell the great, the mighty, the wealthy, the rulers of the world, that they are not worthy of the society of such as in their days are poor, destitute, despised, wanderers, whom they hurt and persecute, as the “offscouring of all things,” is that which fills them with indignation. There is not an informer or apparitor but would think himself disparaged by it. But they may esteem of it as they please; we know that this testimony is true, and the world one day shall confess it so to be.

Reflecting on this verse, Owen makes this observation:

It becomes us to be filled with thoughts of and affections unto spiritual things, to labor for an anticipation of glory, that we faint not in the consideration of the evils that may befall us on the account of the gospel.

Parents, how are you cultivating the above mindset in yourself and then in your children? Continue reading

The Devil, bless his heart, and his cute little flaming arrows…

A pastor takes thirty minutes or–if due to strength and an heartlessness unwilling to yield to the influence of ovens filled with perfectly cooked pot roasts–forty-five minutes each week to develop the hearts and minds, the affections and attitudes, of all the members of the church through the preaching of God’s Word.

Of course, there should be other times for preacher-man to dig and disciple–lunches, office visits, home groups, and invitations to his home for meals. Woe to the church whose shepherd only gives attention when the sheep are all in the pen and he’s got his clean dress robes on. But that’s not today’s point….

Pastors have mere minutes each week to preach God’s Word. As those minutes pass by, a desperate sense of urgency often comes over me. The world, the flesh, and particularly the devil are doing their best to ruin everything at that moment. But, those three enemies don’t really need that moment. They’ve had so much other time to teach. So many are comfortably numb from the 60-hour sermon they’ve already received during the hours preceding Sunday worship… Continue reading

The unFacebooked life is not worth living…?

This is a bit awkward. Most of you arrived here at my blog because you followed an automatically-posted link on my Facebook page. I was going to share the article below on Facebook but it didn’t seem right to do so. Kind of a dilemma to “like” this post, eh…

For the past few days I was able to spend time (real time) with an old friend. He’s not on Facebook so it is particularly difficult to keep up with his work and family. To do so I have to go through the trouble of calling him (…and he doesn’t have a cell phone…) or traveling to visit him–real face time.

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 10.16.40 AMThough Steve is a professor at a university, he has resisted the significant pressure to join the rest of us in our electronic exhibitionism/voyeurism. What are his reasons? Conveniently, he wrote an article for Touchstone about his reasons.

Give the article some time and consider how you can heed Steve’s warnings. Think about how much time you are spending face to face with real people and whether that kind of incarnational living matters. For Christians who have a Savior who took on flesh and lived with us, it should matter.

Easy obedience…

Putting to death our longstanding lusts and habitual sins is warfare—minute by minute engagement with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Suffering persecution with faith is warfare. But not all parts of Christian obedience are warfare. Some are a walk in the park…

Reading Scripture on a regular basis is easy obedience. We sit down, grab a Bible, and dedicate a tiny fraction of our day’s time to the treasure of God’s Word. There is rich blessing in that devotion (Rev. 1:3). So many other books and programs demand our attention, none of which are “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). If it is mindless entertainment we desire, the living and active and sharp will be seen as dead and inactive and dull.

Tithing is easy obedience. One tenth of your income is not yours; it is God’s (Mal. 3:8-12). Actually all of it is God’s but He generously asks only for a tithe. When the check is deposited in the bank account, ten percent, before taxes, is not yours for bills, recreation, mortgage, groceries, or any other thing. Your right hand just gives it while your left hand is busy with other things (Matt. 6:3). If you have strapped yourself with obligations before you considered the tithe, you will find this obedience a burden. If money is your god, tithing will be hell.

Church attendance is easy obedience, unless you live in Pakistan or China. The elders of the church have set times when the members of the church are called to worship the Savior of their souls (Heb. 10:24-25). When we take vows of membership, we commit ourselves to support the church in its worship to the best of our ability and to submit to the government and discipline of the church, part of which is the regular ministry of the Word on the Lord’s Day. So, we get up and simply get our bodies to church. There are few more disappointing parts of the pastoral ministry than having prepared a sermon, a sunday School or small group lesson with particular sheep in mind only to find they have chosen something else over worship and the Word.

Take a fast from your iPhone…

When we think of fasting, we naturally and rightly think of abstaining from food. The purpose is not weight loss but to discipline the body for the purpose of prayer. Given the so-called busy-ness of our lives—made busy by all those leisure activities—perhaps it would be better to fast from other things in order to make time (sad way to put it, isn’t it?) for fellowship with our Father in heaven. Take a week-long fast from television (actually, just beat that idol into powder, mix it with water, drink it, and send it to the place where it belongs–Exodus 32:19-20). Take a day-long fast from the iPhone. Take a month-long fast from the Internet, Fox News, football, baseball, ESPN radio, Facebook (let’s see how many likes that gets), Twitter, Pinterest, Craigslist, texting, blogging…all for the purpose of prayer. Of course, discipline your body and deepen your dependence on God by fasting from food. Consider fasting from those time-consumers also. You may find you are not as busy as you think.

Some encouragement from Spurgeon:

“Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove: and nothing shall he impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:19-21).

And what is fasting for? That seems the difficult point. It is evidently… practiced oftentimes by our Lord, and advised by him to his disciples. Not a kind of religious observance, in itself meritorious, but a habit, when associated with the exercise of prayer, unquestionably helpful. I am not sure whether we have not lost a very great blessing in the Christian Church by giving up fasting….

Martin Luther, whose body, like some others, was of a gross tendency, felt as some of us do, that in our flesh there dwelleth no good thing, in another sense than the apostle meant it; and he used to fast frequently. He says his flesh was wont to grumble dreadfully at abstinence, but fast he would, for he found that when he was fasting, it quickened his praying. There is a treatise by an old Puritan, called, “The soul-fattening institution of fasting,” and he gives us his own experience that during a fast he has felt more intense eagerness of soul in prayer than he had ever done at any other time. Some of you, dear friends, may get to the boiling-point in prayer, without fasting. I do think that others cannot…

Proof of sports idolatry: The Greatest Ever conversation…

When I’m traveling in my car, more often than not I listen to ESPN sports radio. Lately, a lot of airtime has been devoted to the question of who was/is the greatest NBA player of all time: LBJ or MJ. The who-is-the-greatest discussion resurfaces constantly. If any athlete is having a stupendous year his name is floated around by those who desperately want to say he is The Greatest Football/Basketball/Hockey/Baseball Player Ever To Play The Game. It is a nauseating conversation because it is an impossible difficulty for a radio personality to resolve. A hundred year span of professional sports is a complicated system to analyze…perhaps a little less complicated than the task we give to our weathermen (analyzing the complicated system of global weather) and our doctors (analyzing the complicated system of our bodies, none of which are the same). How do you really compare two guys who didn’t play during the same era, against the same pitchers, in the same ballparks, with the same equipment, etc…

Inevitably, though, one of the talking-heads anoints a current player as The Greatest Ever. He has no good arguments, no good comparisons, no good statistics. What he does have is the desire to have a justification for his unceasing obeisance to a great god…no less than The Greatest Ever. All the passion, all the money, all the enthusiasm, all the time, all the devotion, all the chants of praise, all the three-hour sermons (interrupted by commercials for other gods) then make perfect sense. Sports today allows for no atheists.

Tuesday Tour of Links

Five Reasons You Should Go to Your Local Abortion Mill by RC Sproul Jr. The nearest clinic to our church is in Greenville and has been slaughtering children since 1976. You can legally kill your child for around $500 at the Greenville Women’s Clinic. We should be there…

Monergism. If you have searched online for any theological writings, Google undoubtedly has taken you to monergism.com. It is a treasure trove of good, Reformed resources.

Should We Give To Beggars? by Pastor Joseph Bayly. That’s a good question. The answer he gives is yes–but the challenge comes in giving goods instead of cash. This sort of effort is more difficult but would be caring for Jesus (Matthew 25:40). If you are uncomfortable with handing out cash, thinking it could be used to fuel addictions, carry around a few $5 gift cards in your wallet.

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman. This classic is a must-read book for understanding our culture. Here’s one gem from it:

The distance between rationality and advertising is now so wide that it is difficult to remember that there once existed a connection between them. Today, on television commercials, propositions are as scarce as unattractive people. The truth or falsity of an advertiser’s claim is simply not an issue. A McDonald’s commercial, for example, is not a series of testable, logically ordered assertions. It is a drama — a mythology, if you will — of handsome people selling, buying and eating hamburgers, and being driven to near ecstasy by their good fortune. No claims are made, except those the viewer projects onto or infers from the drama. One can like or dislike a television commercial, of course. But one cannot refute it.

Indeed, we may go this far: the television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products.